UAB head coach Andy Kennedy holds the net after cutting...

UAB head coach Andy Kennedy holds the net after cutting it while celebrating his team's NCAA college basketball win in the championship of the American Athletic Conference tournament against Temple, Sunday, March 17, 2024, in Fort Worth, Texas. UAB won 85-69. Credit: AP/Julio Cortez

UAB coach Andy Kennedy had a suggestion for the NCAA Tournament selection committee — look at a map.

Three teams from Alabama were sent more than 2,000 miles from home for the first weekend of March Madness. The Blazers, a No. 12 seed, were joined by No. 4 seeds Auburn and Alabama in Spokane, Washington.

If UAB can beat No. 5 seed San Diego State in the first round on Friday, it could set up a second-round meeting with Auburn, which was facing No. 13 seed Yale in the East Region.

Alabama is in the West Region and will face No. 13 seed Charleston in the first round.

“Bananas, isn’t it? I think we should invest in a map maybe and put it in that room in Indianapolis. Those big wall maps, you can get them pretty cheap,” Kennedy said. “If you just look up there and take a glance, it’s bananas. For us, I don’t care. We’re just excited to be playing.”

Auburn coach Bruce Pearl was more focused on the hardship for families and fans making the journey to the Pacific Northwest. The Tigers won the Southeastern Conference Tournament, but that was only good enough for a No. 4 seed and didn’t land Auburn a spot in Memphis, Tennessee, or Charlotte, North Carolina, far closer and more accessible sites.

And while he appreciated the reception his team has received since arriving, Pearl would rather visit the area for other reasons.

Colgate players pose for photos after defeating Lehigh in an...

Colgate players pose for photos after defeating Lehigh in an NCAA college basketball game in the championship of the Patriot League tournament in Hamilton, N.Y., Wednesday, March 13, 2024. Credit: AP/Adrian Kraus

“I just would rather come here and go fish with (Gonzaga coach) Mark (Few) than necessarily have my fans have to come all the way out here,” Pearl said.

DREW STAYING AT BAYLOR

Scott Drew has been at Baylor since 2003 and the coach made clear Thursday he's staying put as he brushed off a question about being linked to Louisville's job opening.

He didn't talk about what Baylor might have done to keep him from replacing Kenny Payne, who was fired by Louisville. Drew is focused on his third-seeded Bears and Friday's NCAA Tournament opener against No. 14 Colgate in the West Region.

Baylor head coach Scott Drew motions to his players during...

Baylor head coach Scott Drew motions to his players during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Iowa State in the semifinal round of the Big 12 Conference tournament, Friday, March 15, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. Houston won 82-59. Credit: AP/Charlie Riedel

“I’m really blessed because I’ve got a great agent, like most coaches do,” Drew said. “They handle all that stuff and just let us coach and focus. During the season, that’s all I do is spend time focusing on Baylor."

Drew finished sounding a little bit like the lead character in “Forrest Gump.”

"And that’s all I’m going to say about that,” Drew said.

Drew won the national championship with Baylor in 2021 and taken the Bears to 12 NCAA Tournaments. His Bears have lost in the second round each of the last two years.

LUCKY NO. 13

Colgate is the 14th seed in the West Region. It's the number 13 that is treasured by the Patriot League school in Hamilton, New York.

The university opened in 1817 with 13 men contributing $1 each for $13 and saying 13 prayers to found the Baptist Education Society. They had 13 articles to the school’s constitution, and 13 is painted on the Raiders' court.

It might not be great for someone suffering from triskaidekaphobia — a fear of the number 13 — but Colgate embraces a number seen as bad luck by many. It is simply school lore celebrated with Colgate Day every Friday the 13th.

Coach Matt Langel said he is not a suspicious guy, but he realizes the importance of the number to the university.

“This has been a special season, not because it has anything to do with 13, because of the guys that I get to coach every day, the coaching staff I get to work with,” Langel said. “All coaches who sit up here will say that it’s a brotherhood and a family that they have. It truly is.”

This is Langel’s 13th year at Colgate. The Raiders are hoping that brings more luck to the No. 14 seed Friday against Baylor in Memphis, Tennessee.

HONORING LEFTY

James Madison planned to wear a patch on its uniforms to honor the late coach Lefty Driesell when the 12th-seeded Dukes face fifth-seeded Wisconsin on Friday night in New York.

Driesell died at 92 last month. His college coaching career spanned more than four decades, including 17 seasons at Maryland. He was fired in 1986 after the death of Len Bias from a drug overdose.

Driesell landed at JMU in 1988 and led the Dukes to five straight Colonial Athletic Association regular-season titles and one NCAA Tournament appearance.

“I’m really proud and happy that we are doing this, we are representing him on this stage and this level,” JMU coach Mark Byington said Thursday. “You’ll see the Lefty patch on our guys’ uniform. It felt really good. I heard from his son yesterday, Chuck Driesell, and he told me how much it meant to the family that we are doing this. And I told him, it’s the least we can do. He’s done a lot for James Madison and college sports, and I’m glad we are honoring him this way.”

COACH CONNECTION

Northwestern's game Friday against Florida Atlantic in Brooklyn will hold special meaning for Wildcats junior guard Brooks Barnhizer and Owls coach Dusty May, who played for Barnhizer's father at Eastern Greene High School in Indiana.

“Our family is super close,” Barnhizer said. “He was really kind of like my dad’s first son.”

Barnhizer said his father used to pick up May every morning and they would go to the gym around 6 a.m.

“That was just kind of where their bond was kind of formed. And it’s a bond that’s lasted a lifetime," Barnhizer said.

Barnhizer is a terrific defender who averages 14.6 points and a team-high 7.5 rebounds per game.

May guided FAU on its surprising run to the Final Four last season and is thought to be an attractive candidate for a couple of open coaching jobs around the country.

“It’s definitely going to be kind of a full-circle experience for my family. But at the end of the day, we’ve still got to come out and it’s all like — it’s a great experience, but as soon as the ball is tipped, our loyalties are to our teams. We’ve got to go out and win the game,” Barnhizer said. “But it’s definitely a really cool moment for both families.”

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